According to a new study released by the University of South California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, revealed that of the 1,100 highest grossing films form 2007 to 2017, “women, minorities, and members of the LGBT and disabled communities rarely grace the big screen.” While many may believe film is headed in the right direction, “the number of female speaking roles in films has actually slipped from where it was in 2008 and 2009.”
While there may be questions needed inside the study (e.g. although female speaking roles decreased, what type of roles were women receiving in the past?), the lack of increasing representation is troubling especially during a time when diversity is marketed at an all time high. According to Variety, female “speaking characters on screen accounted for 30.6% of the 48,757 characters in the films surveyed, while 29.3% of these characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, 2.5% had disabilities, and less than 1% of were members of the LGBT community. And many of these groups failed to even register in major Hollywood movies.”
When looking at behind the screen representation, of the 1,223 directors reviewed, 4.3% were women, 5.2% were black / African American and 3.1% were Asian / Asian American.
A close look at 2017 shows that of the 100 top grossing films, 33 had women leads or co-leads. of the 33, only four were women of color. It was also shown that female “characters were more than twice as likely as male characters to be shown in sexually revealing clothing, partially naked, or to have their looks talked about in the context of the film.”
2018 may change the narrative with films such as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians hitting the theater, but there is still a bit of a ways to go as we move forward in today’s era.